How to Buy an ISBN

Written by robin coe
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How to Buy an ISBN
Dawn Endico

R.R. Bowker is a United States agency that assigns International Standard Barcode Numbers (ISBNs) to books. Acquiring an ISBN will make information about your work more readily available. Most book retailers and distributors even require an ISBN before they will list books. Bibliographic databases and libraries use the number to quickly identify publishers and titles of works. Typically, R.R. Bowker sells ISBN numbers in groups of 10, 100 and 1,000. However, a single ISBN can be purchased through their My Identifier service.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Go to Bowker's My Identifier Web page (see Resources). Select "ISBN Numbers" from the menu under the login prompt. Click the tab labelled "Single ISBN Number" (unless you want to purchase a bar code, as well).

  2. 2

    Select "Buy now." If you don't have an account, you will need to set one up at this point. Click "Create an account" and fill out the form for your profile. Select "I accept--create my account" at the bottom of the form.

  3. 3

    Log in with your e-mail and password if your are prompted to do so. Select "Shopping trolley" in the menu at the very top of the page, then click "Continue."

  4. 4

    Fill out your billing info, or click "Same as contact info" and select "Continue."

  5. 5

    Pay for your order. All credit cards are accepted.

  6. 6

    Add your title information, publishing status and price information. Title information will include your book title, publisher and author. An ISBN number will now be assigned to you, and you will be able to enter your listing within the website for free.

Tips and warnings

  • Add a cover image and book description to enhance your listing.
  • Remember to update your listing whenever the status of your book or details change. You can do this in your "Myidentifiers" account.
  • Once you pay for an ISBN, the purchase is non-refundable.

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